Julia Knight's Painting Process

by Jeffery Keilholtz
Julia Knight specializes in portrait sculpture.

Julia Knight specializes in portrait sculpture.

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Julia Trawick Knight is known around the world for her visual art. Knight's painting process is one of many stages involved in her specialty: sculpting. Knight began crafting her own work professionally in 1979 and has since obtained commissions from some of the world's most notable institutions, including the Hall of Presidents at the Booth Museum of Western Art in Cartersville, Georgia.

Knights' Evolution

A child and teenager always interested in art, Knight relocated from her home state of Georgia to begin her artistic career studying at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee in 1973. Knight concentrated on sculpting and painting, and apprenticed with professional sculptor Leslie Posey.

Sculptures and Busts

Wrapping up her formal studies in the later 1970s, Knight set up shop in Europe to continue her craft in a professional manner. Knight concentrated her work on creating and painting sculptures. Specifically, Knight focused her work on portrait sculpture -- creating busts from the images of real people. In 1979, Knight finished her first bust of her first husband, Frederick Knight, created at her art studio located in Rome, Italy.

Painting Sculptures

Knight shades and colors her sculptures and busts with many different tools, including airbrushes and oil paints. Her formal studies in figure painting -- the technique of painting life-like people, animals and objects in two-dimensional fashion -- guided her evolution in sculpting busts in a three-dimensional manner.

Famous Works

Moving back and forth between Italy and America has inspired Knight in her artistic process. "Working in Italy has made a huge difference in my concentration and the quality of my work," says Ms. Knight on her official website. Knight's bronze bust of former President Jimmy Carter is on permanent display in the Hall of Presidents and, in 2006, the "Tree Mandala" -- a giant copper-coated oak tree -- was unveiled at the Georgia Highlands College. As of August 2011, Knight continues sculpting and painting at her current studio in Pietrasanta, Italy.

One Color

The shape of the sculpture is the focal point of Knight's life-like art, relegating color and paint to the background. Most of Knight's busts, for example, are painted in only one color. Whether her busts are gold or green in color, the paint provides only a basic shade to the exterior of the art. Knight is also known for applying a bronze or copper coating to her busts and sculptures.

Two Colors

Knight paints her fantasy-based sculptures in two separate colors. "Icarus Shadow II," for example, includes two versions of her character, Icarus. One version is attached in perpendicular fashion to a baseboard. The second version is attached in horizontal fashion, flush against the board. Knight makes a distinction between the two versions -- with blue and gold paint, respectively -- to differentiate the "real" and the "shadow" Icarus.

Photo Credits

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